By Danjuma Aliyu
Audu Ogbeh, was not being honest when he said Nigeria’s growth in production of rice has resulted in the collapse of seven rice mills in Thailand, Wattana Kunwongse has said.
On March 3, Honourable Ogbeh, claimed at an event Presided by President Muhammadu Buhari, that the Ambassador of Thailand, Mr Kunwongse “came to my office and said to me that we have really dealt with them.
“But I asked what did we do wrong, and he said unemployment in Thailand was one of the lowest in the world, 1.2 per cent, it has gone up to four per cent because seven giant rice mills have shut down because Nigeria’s import has fallen by 95 per cent on rice alone,” Hon Ogbeh went on to say at the event held at the Council Chamber of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.
However, Mr Kunwongse, has refuted the claims made by Honourable Ogbeh, the Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, calling them a deliberate “distortion” of a conversation between the two of them.
In a statement, the ambassador states that Honourable Ogbeh’s “report is not only misleading but a distortion of the actual conversation between myself and the honourable minister of agriculture at the federal ministry of agriculture and rural development on 30th January 2018, which was nothing short of positivity and optimism on both sides.”
“During which I praised President Buhari’s Economic Recovery and Growth Plan (ERGP), the essence of which is the endeavour to move the country to a self-sufficiency and export-oriented economy, and to that worthy cause, Thailand stands ready to work closely with the Nigerian government in the field of technological transfer and agricultural machineries,” Mr Kunwongse’s statement further reads.
“At the same meeting, the honourable minister and I had reached the conclusion that I as ambassador of Thailand to Nigeria will be working closely with the Ministry of Agriculture and rural development to establish a platform to discuss our mutual benefits in the form of MOU on Agricultural Cooperation and by forming a bilateral Working Committee toward that end.
The ambassador notes that “there is no proof of any shutdown of Thailand’s major rice mills.”
In fact, he said: “Thailand’s rice export to the world in 20 (January-December 2017) reached 11.48 million tons equalising to $5.1 billion (USD), a 15.54 per cent increase compared to previous years, which is one of the highest figures on the history Thailand’s rice exportation.”